Ohio Supreme Court Chief Justice Maureen O’Connor announced recently that she’s going to form a 24-member task force that will take a close look at the system of bail in Ohio. The group will then compare the state’s system to that of other states throughout the nation and make recommendations on what to change to the supreme court this April.
The Push is from Various Constituencies
This comes amidst a push by various groups, including the ACLU of Ohio, to do away with money bail altogether. One oft-cited statistic is the fact that in Ohio 57% of people in jail at any given time are not actually serving a sentence, but awaiting trial. Most groups opposing money bail instead lobby for some other form of assessment, typically an algorithm-based assessment tool. That, however, is turning out to be less of a blessing than expected. In most cases, it’s resulted in more people being held in jail, while in others those with drug addiction and mental health problems are being released by the state without being properly assessed for help.
More of the Same
Ohio has already studied bail reform though. In 2017, actually, so it begs the question – how much does this cost? The article in Dayton Daily News doesn’t specify, probably because that figure is currently unknown and, even more likely, unpalatable to tax payers. Whether this drive is the will of the people of Ohio is unknown, but one must expect that if the actual costs were assessed properly, it may turn quite a few folks off. Still, the ACLU of Ohio and other groups continue to beat the drum. Notes the ACLU of Ohio:
Ohio’s punitive bail system is costly, racially biased, counterproductive, and a key driver of mass incarceration. People suffer in local jails while awaiting trial, and low-level offenses such as drug possession cause many working Ohioans to lose their jobs.